If you're a parent and are looking for helpful tips or more effective methods for parenting, there are some upcoming classes that might be particularly useful. Trinity Behavioral Health Services will be offering a series of Nurturing Parenting classes starting in January for families with children 0 to 12 years of age.
Nurturing Parenting offers guidance for parents and children to help them improve communication, control stress and anger, make discipline more effective, and establish routines for daily activities and family fun.
The classes, which are free, will begin Jan. 8 and continue each Tuesday through April 23 at Health Center-Riverside, located at 1900-18th Ave. S.E., west of Holiday Inn Riverside. Each class begins with a supper at 5:30 p.m. and concludes by 8 p.m. There are two programs offered, one for parents of children ages birth to 5 years, and another for parents of children ages 5 to 12 years. Features of the program include free on-site childcare, light evening meal and snack, transportation assistance, separate child and parent sessions, and family activity time.
Robin Pretzer, Nurturing Parenting program coordinator and licensed social worker with Trinity Behavioral Health Services at Health Center-Riverside, encourages everyone who is a parent to attend the upcoming series of Nurturing Parenting classes. The classes start Jan. 8 and continue each Tuesday through April 23 at Health Center-Riverside from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The classes are free and a nursery is available for children under 3 years of age. Children attend their own classes covering the same topics as the parents during the same time.
Nurturing Parenting classes are funded by the North Dakota Department of Human Services, in partnership with the NDSU Extension Service and the North Dakota Parent Education Network, as well as Trinity Health.
Robin Pretzer, Nurturing Parenting program coordinator and licensed social worker with Trinity Behavioral Health Services at Health Center-Riverside, said the parenting class fits all walks of life. Co-parenting is very difficult, so there have been several class sessions offered, she added.
"It gives another avenue of skills and different ways of parenting," she said. "We have had grandmas go through the program, who either have custody or want to help, and for single parents this is like a support system and helps them see there are others like them."
The Nurturing Parenting program has been around for a little more than 20 years, Pretzer said, and students in the class receive textbooks that they get to keep as well as watching videos. The parenting classes were started in the late 1980s, she noted, but there's such a difference in parenting now than a generation or two ago.
"Parenting and discipline have changed a lot," Pretzer added.
"At the last session (of Nurturing Parenting classes), there were about 15 graduates," Pretzer said. Children are encouraged to attend the classes, she added, and in fact, there was one parent who attended who had eight children. The Nurturing Parenting classes are for everyone: single dads, single moms, grandparents, pregnant teens, and some women start the classes while they're pregnant, Pretzer noted.
Nurturing Parenting classes are always offered in the spring and fall, Pretzer said, but Trinity has offered sponsorship so there will also be classes during the summer.
"We'll have classes as many times as we can squeeze in a year," she said.
Parents are in class from 6 to 7:45 p.m., and then they go to the children's classrooms where they interact and play games with the kids, Pretzer explained. It's an important part because a lot of adults aren't as comfortable interacting with kids as you would think, she added. There's also a nursery available for children under 3 years, Pretzer said, and the class for the children covers the same topics as the parents.
"It's good that the children are hearing the same message," she added.
Pretzer noted they talk a lot about infant development in the classes for parents of children age birth to 5 years. However, she also said everyone is typically interested in the punishment and reward topic.
"They take a pre-inventory and a post-inventory to give them an idea on how things are going and they can see their progress," she said.
Data has been gathered from the results, Pretzer said, so the classes are very evidence-based.
After class each time, Pretzer said the students do an evaluation on their progress and usually the feedback she receives from students has been very supportive and appreciative of the class. The students form a bond with their classmates, too, she added.
If parents are wanting to attend the classes, but aren't able to, or might be unsure about attending, Pretzer encourages them to call her at 857-3622, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website (www.nurturingparenting.com).
"I could talk about parenting all day," she noted. "Come and try it. It's a free class. Give it a chance. We have a lot of fun. Finding out that (other) parents are having a lot of the same issues (as you) is helpful.
"I'm from the school where you're never too old to stop learning. And if you can learn better ways of parenting, why not? It's a great activity to do with your kids. I just can't say enough about it."